I was posting an old blog post on Twitter about Denny’s and their new mozzarella stick, grilled cheese sandwich. There has been a trend lately for “shock and awe” dishes that bring the uber-hungry to the restaurants and garner lots of press and chidings from bloggers. Denny’s had entered the fray with this particular sandwich.
I do the This is Why You’re Fat posts to help people learn about the food they’re eating and to help them realize that it can be a very tricky thing to figure out how many calories you’re consuming in a restaurant meal. These posts elicit the usual responses of “Eww gross,” and “Ick, how could anyone eat that?” I have to admit fried mozzarella sticks embedded in a grilled cheese sandwich sounds pretty gross to me and I’ll definitely pass. I got one response on Twitter, though, that caught my attention:
- from @huynhmi1, “Hi, we also serve healthier options. For example, we recently started selling Amy’s veggie burgers, they can be ordered vegan.” (BTW, @huynhmi1 works for Denny’s corporate offices)
Denny’s does vegan? Who knew? So I put that out on Twitter and a few people said they might give Denny’s a try the next time they were faced with fast food options and trying to eat healthy.
So then I asked Twitter:
“Is it fair to throw fast food joints under the bus for crazy dishes with tons of calories or are they just giving us what we want?”
I got quite a few responses to that question!
- from @joleenruffin, “With nutritional charts available in many restaurants now, we are completely responsible for the food choices we make”
- from @kenbrand, “IMO, we’re responsible 4 our own decisions, what we buy, eat, etc. The marketing to immature decisions makers (kids) is uncool.”
- from @lwcavallucci, “I think it’s a combination. People want it, but it’s also that they have become used to the fatty, caloric fast food.”
So it seems to be leaning towards personal choice at this point; people are responsible, ultimately, for what they put in their mouths. But then I tweeted out:
“Most people are saying it’s personal responsibility. That’s interesting. What if you knew they hire scientists to make it more ‘addictive’?”
There is a whole division of food sciences that works on things like layering flavors of salt/sweet/fat to make the food more appealing. There is even a science to the “chew,” the amount of times it takes to chew the food before swallowing. The less times you need to “chew,” the more attractive it is. It also means you can eat faster and therefore more. There is another subset of the food industry that works on fragrances. The smell of a McDonald’s hamburger, for instance, is completely manufactured. Without a few drops of a proprietary liquid, you’d think the stuff was cardboard.
- A good point from @pilateyourbody, “But they aren’t trying to make steamed broccoli more additive. It’s processed foods that, if honest w/ yourself, you know there’s better.”
- from @Appetite4Profit, “it would be easier for people to resist temptation and ‘not go in’ to fast food places if they weren’t on every corner.” [very true – Lisa]
So where do you come down on this argument? Do you think there should be nutrition and calorie information on menus? Do you think fast food chains market to kids? Do you think that’s okay? Do you exercise self-control in fast food restaurants or do you just enjoy a hamburger and fries whenever you feel like it?
Let’s start a healthy discussion here and see if we can find some solutions.